Recently I was re-reading the stories of Paul’s amazing missionary journeys in the book of Acts. I’ve always enjoyed the part about Paul’s unexpected and unscheduled visit to Malta probably because I have had holidays there in the past, so know the coastline and can imagine the scene.
This verse we’re looking at today leads to an interesting outcome. The local people, considering the facts they had before them, were reasoning why Paul had been bitten by the snake. They were certain the snake bite wasn’t just a coincidence. First they decided that Paul must be a murderer and clearly deserved to die, so although he’d escaped drowning in the sea the poisonous snake was carrying out the deserved judgement.
However Paul didn’t die. So they changed their idea. Since he’d been bitten by a poisonous snake and didn’t die, they reasoned what had happened was a miracle, so he must be a god. I assume Paul put them right that he wasn’t a god but that he served an amazing miracle-working God. To prove the point he went on to demonstrate God’s power by healing many who were sick, from all over Malta.
I can’t help but think that if this event happened today on the shoreline of England, rational 21st century people would reason this miracle away and miss what God was doing. They might say “Obviously the snake isn’t poisonous” or “Clearly Paul is immune to this venom” or give any number of other excuses to explain away the situation. I don’t think many would come to the conclusion that it was, without doubt, a miracle!
It’s a sad thought that with our rational and scientific minds we explain away God’s miraculous deeds on earth. Perhaps we assume that a wonderful healing is exclusively due to the skill of doctors, that a special blessing is just serendipity, or that a meeting with a special friend is just a happy coincidence.
I’m sure if we had our spirit eyes open to see God’s dealings each day we’d be thrilled and inspired. Maybe our increased recognition and affirmation of God’s work would lead to even greater miracles. Our God’s a miracle-working God and He’s the same today as He always was. He still works His miracles, even in 21st Century England.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive us that we so often fail to recognise Your miraculous intervention in our lives. We’re sorry that we’re often more focussed on finding rational explanations rather than accepting Your divine intervention. Open the eyes of our spirits, Lord, so we can see what You’re doing in the midst of our modern rational-thinking world. We pray this in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
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